Licentiate Column 26/01/11

I’ll listen to everything that I’m told, but I almost never listen to a) my father or b) political news.  Both are fond of grand pronouncements, hyperbolic accusations and statements resulting in a sense of self-loathing the likes of which The National Enquirer can only dream of publishing.

It’s fortunate that the one time I actually did listen to my father was in regards to politics – a double whammy that filled up my aural assault quota quite nicely, thank you very much.  He told me that the population of Ireland is close to the population of Manchester, but we have as many political representatives as country ten times Ireland’s size.  The result is a tin-pot government, unable or unwilling to pull itself out of the country’s present funk due to a lethal combination of corruption, ineptitude and a misguided sense of self-entitlement.

Ireland needs a Maggie Thatcher.  Calm down now, put down your pitchforks and Poll Tax paraphenalia, I’m not suggesting for a nanosecond that Ireland needs a woman who refuses people a fair wage, denies small children their calcium and plays with the power grid as if it was a tricky dimmer switch.

Margaret Thatcher was the Iron Lady, a politician that you could legitimately hate for legitimate reasons.  With her navy blue power shoulders and impervious helmet of hair, she personified the cold, steely, uncaring gaze of an impassive statue, unflinching at the chaos she was causing.  Our politicians bumble about more than the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers in a bouncy castle and retain the slightly greasy sheen of stress-induced sweating as if was going out of fashion (which it is).  The rumpled suits of Brian Cowen only add to his frazzled ‘Whoops, there goes the Central Bank!’ aura.  The shoulders of his suits are cut exclusively for faux-contrite shrugging or incredibly defensive prognostication.  Ireland’s politicians are every bit as as bad as Thatcher; their shambolic, pseudo-apologetic clothing is the only thing to dictate otherwise.

We need politicians to smarten up and fly right.  The adoption of Margaret Thatcher as a sartorial National Treasure in Britain despite the deep well of public hatred (she was photographed for Vogue by Mario Testino in 2008) should draw attention to the power of the right suit in the face of gross ineptitude.  We need a decisive leader who can take charge, preferably with a swift jab of an Aquascutum handbag and the flash of a well-turned out ankle (Brian Lenihan or Enda Kenny, I’m looking at you).

What we really need are some good politicians, but since that’s a near impossibility, we should just tart up the terrible ones that we have.  Give them some small veneer of public professionalism with the right clothing and attitude, and we’ll have reason to double our complaints.  Backcomb Mary Harney’s hair and cement with a pint of hairspray into the eponymous Thatch, pop her into a pair of suitable Ferragamos and presto!  We have a new Maggie.

A term coined appropriately at the apex of Reaganism and Thatcherism, ‘politics is showbusiness for ugly people’ still stands strong today.  And if that really is the case, then we’re all watching Eastenders – not Questions and Answers.

7 thoughts on “Licentiate Column 26/01/11

  1. >Thatcher is a bad word in our house. She destroyed so many lives and hell won't be full til she is in it.However, I know what you are getting at. Ireland's politicans are seemingly all the same. Hell, even in Northern Ireland, whilst our MLA's aren't any better, their political intentions are very clearly marked. You know the liberals from the right wing.

  2. >While there are elements of Thatcherism I dislike, not everything she stood for was as terrible. I think people find it very difficult to stomach her and the kind of hatred she attaches is upsetting. For the most part she was a classical liberal who was for for personal liberty and the state being less involved with the people. I feel ideologically she had some things very very right, but in the same breath – the execution- and looking at it from marco perspective, she also did a whole load of mess.She had a vision and she had style – something that seems missing from not only Irish, but British politics in the past 20 years. Sure wee had Tony Blair…but for the most part he was just a toothy grin and good PR, and in hindsight he seems to attract a hell of a load of hatred, people forgetting how popular he was at the time.Anyway…wonderful post. x

  3. >Did you see Olivia O'Leary on the Late Late last week? There were 3 people on, being asked what they would do if they were Taoiseach. An inspirational woman, she knew exactly what she was talking about, and it made so much sense. And, she's glamorous! Definitely agree, we need some nicer faces to look at, seeing as we're seeing so many of them recently. A fashion rehaul of the Dáil, yes sir.XX

  4. >A decisive leader who can take charge? We tried that with Haughey. In my view, what we need is to overhaul the electoral system, doing away with multi seat constituencies, so that TDs don't have to constantly focus on localism and doing favours for constituents. Then, the Irish people need to get over the ridiculous post colonial attitudes we have that lead to the two biggest parties being both basically centre right, with the major difference between them being which side their ancestors fought in a civil war 90 years ago.

  5. >Also, in response to White Rabbit's comment, right wing and liberal are not two oppositional terms. The right wing/left wing divide has two main areas of interest, the economy, and civil society. Economically, liberalism is generally associated with right wing parties, who favour private enterprise, low taxes, and weak state regulation of business. Socially, left wing parties tend to be more liberal, believing in individual human and civil rights and freedoms, while right wing parties are less liberal, believing in "tradional family values" and the like.This is how the Lib Dems, despite previously being seen as a somewhat left wing party, are able to go into government with the Tories, while still remaining true to (a certain school of) liberal thought.

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